A Biblical Definition of an Adventure of Faith 1

So, what is a God-composed journey of faith life-script, and equally important…what is it not?

I would start by saying that God Himself defines a walk of faith, a journey of faith, and an adventure of faith…in the narrative stories of faith in the Bible.

When God in the Old Testament spoke to Abraham: “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee” (Gen. 12:1), from that moment forward God Himself is defining His true relationships with people through God-composed adventures of faith.  Here begins the intentional, divinely created invention of the blend of God’s sovereignty and mankind’s free-will choice, mysteriously combined within the dynamics of an individually tailored, God-composed life-script that requires subordination of our ways to God’s higher plans for our lives…entirely unique to the Bible.

In willingly choosing to obey God and step-out into an adventure of faith, some of Abraham’s self-in-charge nature was left behind…crucified, so to speak…as he headed off toward Canaan.  Abraham’s own plans, schemes, and ideas for his life were displaced by God’s plan that was much larger and grander than anything Abraham could have imagined.  With each step toward Canaan and away from Haran, Abraham left behind the other life he would have lived had he not met God, and walked toward a new life being offered to Abraham by God.  For this it is said of Abraham that “he believed in the Lord, and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6).

The key point here is that Abraham cannot be in both places at once.  Abraham cannot be in Haran and Canaan, both physically…and spiritually…at the same time.

As Abraham walks toward Canaan he is choosing to exercise faith in God’s plans, over and above…and to the exclusion…of his own plans

This same theme is repeated in varied forms in every positive journey of faith in the Bible.  A God-crafted journey of faith as recorded in the narrative stories of the Bible completely displaces our ways with God’s higher ways.

A biblical journey of faith lies outside of our own making.  It is devoid of human contrivance, self-reliance, and self-realization by God’s purposeful design.  It stands outside of human literary invention, because the concept of the cross of Jesus Christ (Lk. 22:42) applied to our lives…the setting aside of our ways to be replaced by God’s higher ways…not only runs completely contrary to worldly acceptable, pride-filled thinking…but resides in a totally out-of-reach realm of unconventional options beyond our self-motivation to initiate and orchestrate (Isa. 55:8-9; Prov. 3:5-6).

This I believe is a biblical definition of a God-composed adventure of faith.  If we can see the cross of Christ in the life-scripts of the narrative stories of faith in the Bible…starting with Abraham…then we have solid scriptural ground to stand upon in understanding the cross applied to our own lives.

A Biblical Definition of Faith

Atheists are fundamentally wrong when they use the word “faith” generically in the broad sense to criticize religions such as “the Muslim faith,” or “the Hindu faith,” or “the Christian faith.”  Skeptical unbelief reduces all religions into the narrowly horizontal flat-line of man-made inventive nonsense…because the atheist’s starting premise is that God does not exist anywhere in reality and therefore all religions must be man-made fiction.

The loose and inaccurate use of the word “faith” to broadly describe and categorize religions, in my view represents universally shoddy, simplistic thinking.  Anyone carefully reading the narrative stories of faith recorded in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible will notice something extraordinarily unique…a dynamic interaction between God and people of faith.  Religious faith is correctly defined…exclusively in the Bible…within God-composed adventures of faith…within the living action of risky ventures that are scripted to produce the outcome of a personal bond between God and people.

Falling in love romantically carries risks.  An old adage applies here: “Faint heart never got the fair lady.”

Following God into a dynamic adventure of faith carries similar relational risks and rewards.  Faith and trust within a relationship between real people and the real God are the cornerstone reality of the biblical narrative stories of faith.  This paradigm of a personal relationship between people and God does not exist anywhere else in other religions, philosophies, or worldviews.  It is unique to the Bible.

It is arguably the most basic, important issue in all of reality.

“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:6)…him, meaning the Lord God…is an outrageously bold and risky statement to make about the biblical God unless He does in fact exist and that He interacts in the affairs of mankind and in the personal lives of people of faith.  Many verses in the Bible describe an interactive, living faith that makes no sense without the existence of a real, participant God (Ps. 32:8; Isa. 30:21, 41:10, 44:8; Ezek. 36:26-29), who shows up on time and is fully engaged.

The broadly inaccurate use of the word “faith” to characterize all religions, in our politically correct culture of relative inclusiveness, would embrace as valid the false idol-worship of some of the Israelites that from time-to-time became apostate religious practice…yet the worship of dumb idols is the very antithesis of the intimate biblical adventure of faith between God and a person.  Religious practices and “faith” are terms that are not truly and accurately synonymous.

Brilliant antagonists have been attacking the Bible for hundreds of years.  Brilliant Christian apologists have been answering back with credible and compelling rebuttals as the facts come to light in the fields of history, archaeology, science, linguistics, philosophy, and theological research.

But the one unassailable…and as yet untouched…part of the Bible is the utter uniqueness of God-composed journey of faith life-scripts, because these fall inexplicably outside of anything even remotely close to humanistic explanation or fictional, imaginary invention.  This is the theme…a uniquely biblical danger zone of faith in the real, living God…outside of accepted, worldly conventional thinking…that I am attempting to articulate in this book.

Faith is not the same as religious practices, beliefs, and tradition.  Dynamic, action-packed, God-composed adventures of faith in the Bible transcend above bland, institutionalized, man-made religious practices.

A biblical-quality journey of faith life-script creates a challenging yet hope-filled, purposeful, and exhilarating reality of events and circumstances that we could not possibly self-manufacture, because the unconventionality of the way of the cross of Jesus Christ, skillfully interwoven into every God-composed storyline, rises far above worldly conventional wisdom.

The Christian Life in the Danger Zone

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;                                                                                                (Hebrews 12:1-2)

It takes guts and courage to be a Christian.  The race that is set before us…following a life-script composed and managed by Jesus Christ the Creator of the universe, takes us to an innovative place…far outside of worldly conventional thinking.

Like the first-century dispute answered well by Jesus about the resurrection of the dead (Mk. 12:26-27)…in plain sight just below the surface within the discourse between God and Moses at the burning bush familiar to every Jew in that day (Ex. 3:6)…this simple truth about Christian guts and courage again is hiding right there in plain sight for us in the New Testament scriptures.

Conventional wisdom would strongly council Jesus to stay away from Jerusalem for several months or even years for His own safety (Jn. 11:8).

But Jesus is not living His life according to conventional wisdom.  Jesus is perfectly living a God-composed walk of faith as the Lamb of God Savior for mankind (Jn. 5:30).  Jesus goes back to Jerusalem the week of that fateful Passover, is crucified on Friday, and rises from the tomb on Sunday morning to become the author of salvation to all those who will place their faith in Him.

There is an exceptionally rare storyline going on here, soaring out of sight above horizontally conventional thinking (1 Cor. 1:25).  The life of Jesus, especially concerning the dramatic events leading up to Calvary, is as divergent from the worldly accepted expectations and aspirations of conventional normalcy as is possible.

It took the most sublime guts and courage, walking along the most unconventionally unimaginable life-path, to be the Savior of the world…to be Jesus Christ.  It takes a similar measure of guts and courage to likewise be a follower of Jesus Christ in the first-century and today.

Listen to the words spoken by Peter standing before the Sanhedrin council recorded in Acts 4:8-12:

8  Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,

9  If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made well;

10  Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

11  This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.

12  Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

The underlying boldness and precision supporting these brilliantly concise words regarding the Person and resurrection of Jesus Christ were set in motion entirely through the supernatural works of God alone.  The adventure of faith ride that Peter and John are experiencing at this moment is engineered by God.  The events of the rejection, crucifixion, and resurrection that Peter is speaking about are…first and foremost…divinely crafted, shaped, and channeled by God (Isa. 53:3; Ps. 22:16; Ps. 16:10).

The entire scenario of the crippled man healed at the gate of the temple, leading to this momentous confrontation between the old and the new at the beginning of the new covenant Christian church in Jerusalem, is totally set up and manufactured by God.  Peter is not testifying here, before the Sanhedrin council in Jerusalem, about anything that he has done, using worldly wisdom or cleverly persuasive oratory.  The message, power of conviction, and clarity by which Peter speaks are inspired and energized by the Holy Spirit.

The transforming progression of the culminating events of Peter’s early discipleship phase, tell us about the perilous but liberating danger zone where the living God will take us if we will simply follow after Him in faith.

Peter’s denial of Christ in the courtyard (Lk. 22:61-62), his personal interview with the risen Jesus on resurrection morning (Lk 24:34), to “I go a fishing” (Jn. 21:3) and “Feed my sheep” (Jn. 21:16), the command to wait in Jerusalem (Acts 1:4), and the stupendous breakthrough on Pentecost (Acts 2), is the story of a God-made man.

Only God has the capacity to create a God-made man.  Only God has the divine creative imagination and loving motivation to invent such a context of unconventional events and circumstances wherein changed people, having new spiritual hearts, can function and excel.  No humanistic program on earth could or would do this.

It takes real guts and courage to follow Jesus into a danger- zone adventure that is outside of worldly conventional normalcy.

If we could see Jesus present and looking on at the scene of Peter and John courageously defending the new gospel message before the Sanhedrin, we might see Him off to one side at “stage right” with the unmistakable look of loving pride and satisfaction on His face at the progress in character these two young men, starting out as mere fishermen, had made in so short a time.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter and John were stepping up into the role Jesus had trained them for, and the world would never be the same again.

This is what a biblical-quality journey of faith is designed to accomplish.  This is what The Christian Life in the Danger Zone can achieve, in world-shaking non-conformity, far above the horizontally safe expectations of worldly conventional mediocrity (Rom. 12:2; Acts 17:6).

Not My Will, But Thine, be Done

Finally, God-composed life-scripts are so creatively imaginative that God managed to write a life-script for the divine Son of God Jesus, on earth in a human body, which challenged His own divine character capacity.  This is sublime on a divine level that is ingenious.  Although already covered in previous chapters, it merits one last final look in more detail.

In taking upon Himself in the form of the Second Person of the Trinity the mass of sin accumulated by mankind, Jesus the Son of God is pushed to the novel, unprecedented, and at least from our viewpoint the unpredicted limits of His own divine capacity (if this is theoretically possible).  In the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus prays saying: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” and returns to pray in agony more earnestly, here the narrative story surely breaks from the creative capacity of human literary imagination.

A perfect God who can compose a life-script for Himself that challenges His own capacity to the limits…precisely at the exact point where we need the most help in picking up our cross in total surrender to God’s higher ways…is incredibly and unimaginably insightful in its pinpoint accuracy and sharp-edged truthfulness at the height of creative, inventive reality.  That God Himself can relate to us at this critical juncture of surrendering our way to a larger plan…a larger cause having eternal benefits to ourselves and to others…is again sublime at the highest level of creativity, thought, and moral reasoning.

If Jesus had difficulty in this area of the way of the cross, then so will we.  That Jesus is an overcomer who triumphed over all of this spiritual opposition, endured the cross, and defeated death by being raised from the dead…qualifies Jesus Christ to be our King, our Ruler, our Savior and Redeemer, and our God.

Of course I am similarly challenged by the unknown future elements of my adventure of faith.  We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).  God is outside of time…only He has my complete life-script.  So it boils down to faith and trust.  A good heart will give God the benefit of the doubt…as our salvation is worked out in the ups and downs of life in a journey of faith…come what may.  

But if God is this good at leadership and management theory, this good at the top-down insertion of information-rich body plans of the creatures of the Cambrian Explosion, this good in the complex and specified information contained in DNA, RNA, and proteins in the microscopic world of living cells, then we can be confident that our God-composed journeys of faith will be equally well-crafted.

If God is this artistically creative in having built-in instructions in place during embryonic cell division, telling each cell where to go and what function to perform in all living body-plans, and is at this high level of precision in the insertion of all of the required information within the first split-seconds of the Big Bang to enable complex life to emerge billions of years later, then we can with confidence release our faith and trust in Him.

If God is this morally and philosophically creative in the brilliantly crafted life-script journeys of faith found in the narrative stories in the Bible…then Christians today can confidently follow Jesus Christ up into the highest mountaintops and down into the lowest valleys of the upcoming great tribulation, and then out into the secure restfulness of eternal life in heaven…the final, brave new world without end.

This is the picture I believe will come into clearer focus as people begin to understand the privileged and unparalleled value of an adventure-of-faith journey into The Christian Life in the Danger Zone.

Some Final Thoughts

                If God tells Paul what great things he must suffer for Jesus and the gospel (Acts 9:16), and this results in one of the great adventures of faith of all time…one that we celebrate today…which culminates in the planting of new Christian churches throughout the Greco-Roman world and the inspired New Testament letters that are part of the foundation of our Christian faith and experience today, what if Jesus says to every Spirit-born, end-times Christian on the earth: “For I will show them how great things they must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:16)? Will we view this as a blessed opportunity and a privileged calling?  Is this the final opportunity for the “small” Christian through the Holy Spirit “latter rain” to shine “as the brightness of the firmament” and as “stars for ever and ever” by turning many to righteousness (Dan. 12:3)?

If Paul sacrifices the comforts of a normal retirement in Jerusalem (Acts 23:11), and completes his missionary career in custody as a prisoner, to testify for Christ to those in Rome, to complete his New Testament “pastoral” epistles, and to suffer final martyrdom…what if God calls the last-days Christian church to a similar challenge?  What if the biblical-quality adventure of faith is a drama and a saga that soars far above worldly conventional normalcy into the danger zone of faith in God, which only intensifies within the events and circumstances of the final closing chapter of human redemptive history?

Finally, God-composed life-scripts are so creatively imaginative that God managed to write a life-script for the divine Son of God Jesus, on earth in a human body, which challenged His own divine character capacity.  This is sublime on a divine level that is ingenious.  Although already briefly covered in previous chapters, it merits one last final look in more detail.

In taking upon Himself in the form of the Second Person of the Trinity the mass of sin accumulated by mankind, Jesus the Son of God is pushed to the novel, unprecedented, and at least from our viewpoint the unpredicted limits of His own divine capacity (if this is theoretically possible).  In the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus prays saying: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” and returns to pray in agony more earnestly, here the narrative story surely breaks from the creative capacity of human literary imagination.

A perfect God who can compose a life-script for Himself that challenges His own capacity to the limits…precisely at the exact point where we need the most help in picking up our cross in total surrender to God’s higher ways…is incredibly and unimaginably insightful in its pinpoint accuracy and sharp-edged truthfulness at the height of creative, inventive reality.  That God Himself can relate to us at this critical juncture of surrendering our way to a larger plan…a larger cause having eternal benefits to ourselves and to others…is again sublime at the highest level of creativity, thought, and moral reasoning.

If Jesus had difficulty in this area of the way of the cross, then so will we.  That Jesus is an overcomer who triumphed over all of this spiritual opposition, endured the cross, and defeated death by being raised from the dead…qualifies Jesus Christ to be our King, our Ruler, our Savior and Redeemer, and our God.

But if God is this good at leadership and management theory, this good at the top-down insertion of information-rich body plans of the creatures of the Cambrian Explosion, this good in the complex and specified information contained in DNA, RNA, and proteins in the microscopic world of living cells, then we can be confident that our God-composed journeys of faith will be equally well-crafted.

If God is this artistically creative in having built-in instructions in place during embryonic cell division, telling each cell where to go and what function to perform in all living body-plans, and is at this high level of precision in the insertion of all of the required information within the first split-seconds of the Big Bang to enable complex life to emerge billions of years later, then we can with confidence release our faith and trust in Him.

If God is this morally and philosophically creative in the brilliantly crafted life-script journeys of faith found in the narrative stories in the Bible…then Christians today can confidently follow Jesus Christ up into the highest mountaintops and down into the lowest valleys of the upcoming great tribulation, and then out into the secure restfulness of eternal life in heaven…the final, brave new world without end.

This is the picture I believe will come into clearer focus as people begin to understand the privileged and unparalleled value of an adventure-of-faith journey into The Christian Life in the Danger Zone.

Paul’s Private Discourse with Felix

During Paul’s imprisonment at Caesarea, Acts 24:24-25 reads: “And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.  And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.”

Over the years I have wondered about the exact words and the power of Paul’s speech that made Felix…a Roman ruler…a powerful and worldly successful man…tremble during this very private interview of Paul and “the faith in Christ.”  Paul was reasoning out of the natural moral law combined with the gospel message of salvation through Christ and the cross, in an elevated manner and through personal conviction that is not attainable by human intellect alone.

Saul (Paul) the young Pharisee speaking to Felix or someone like Felix decades earlier, about his zeal and enthusiasm for the religion of Judaism, would have produced genuine respect and admiration for Saul’s religious beliefs and erudition, but would never have brought Felix under Holy Spirit conviction for sin that an anointed discourse on righteousness, temperance, and judgment-to-come would produce in a politically powerful, worldly successful Roman governor.

The difference between Saul the young Pharisee and Paul the seasoned Christian missionary evangelist is that on the road to Damascus, God found Paul and Paul found God.  Saul the young Pharisee knew about God…Paul the apostle of the faith knows God personally.  Paul was able to draw out from his own adventure of faith following Jesus Christ, the living words of truth that cut through the hard outer shell of the practical worldly thinking of a man like Felix, to reach his inner conscience.

The difference in Paul was produced through an adventure of faith following Jesus Christ in the danger zone of self-abandoned faith….according to a God-composed life-script of such original creativity that it was previously unimaginable to Saul (Paul) or anyone else at the time, before his conversion.

It was a God-composed adventure of faith life-script to be a missionary evangelist to the Greco-Roman world of the first-century that enabled Paul to write to the Corinthians:

Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,                                                                                                         Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;                                                                                        Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;                                                                                              Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all           things.                                                                                  Love never faileth…                                               (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

It is my guess that some of these timeless truths entered into the discussion of Paul with Felix so many years ago.  Only in heaven will we know whether Felix eventually made the decision for Christ that would determine his eternal future.

In this discourse between Paul and Felix, Felix knows that Paul is a prisoner, knows all about the recent furor in Jerusalem involving Paul, and is fully aware that Paul has been rejected by the ruling Jews of Jerusalem.  Yet Felix initiates this private interview with Paul, making a point of including his wife Drusilla the Jewess as well.

The Christian church in the last days, if not raptured pretribulation, may be in a similar worldly disadvantaged condition like Paul in relation to Felix and the world at large (Mt. 24:9), yet likewise be filled with Holy Spirit wisdom, self-composure, grace, confidence in Christ, and divinely empowered love that will draw people to us to hear the gospel message.

In the heat of the end-times environment, only the polarized contrast of a journey-of-faith and a journey-of-self, may exist as options.  Multitudes of people disenchanted with the conventional worldly option will become interested in hearing the gospel message…really listening for the first time.  The piercing truth of the gospel message spoken through an anointed and inspired discourse will cause people to tremble over conviction of sin as Felix trembled at the words of Paul so many years ago.

Christians today must rise above being merely “church Christians” where the sole experience of our faith occurs only within the four walls of our church building.  Our testimony must have more depth than merely telling people “how great” is our church service, our pastor, the worship music, and the youth program, without ever mentioning what Jesus Christ means to us.  Our lives and our testimony must begin to approximate and become in-line with what we read in the narrative stories of faith in the Bible, based upon our own biblical-quality adventure of faith.  This is not only achievable, but is the special work God intends to do through the new covenant relationship with all believers who exercise faith in Christ.

Everyone Missed the Cross, Part 2

Returning to the analogy of the small construction company caught unprepared in the middle of rapid business growth, the last-days radical change in the world environment will force upon everyone on the earth the corresponding need for “managerial” character growth that is not obtainable through the horizontally conventional, worldly mindset of self-reliance alone.  The stakes will be so high and the conditions so dire that only a secure hope in the salvation of God through a future eternal life in heaven will overcome the utter despair at the loss of the supposed “right” to the temporal dreams, hopes, and aspirations of worldly conventional normalcy (Heb. 11:13-16; Rev. 12:11).  The heat of persecution will purify the gold of faith and remove the dross of empty, worldly acceptance and short-term ambitions.

The “small” Christian energized by the latter rain of the Holy Spirit poured out upon the earth, transforming people now quietly going about their Christian lives into future roaring lions of the faith courageously proclaiming the gospel message of salvation and deliverance, will epitomize for one last final time the ability of God to reach in and rescue success from the apparent jaws of defeat.

This is the God of the Bible, and there is no other like Him.  To experience this power, grace, and divine love to the fullest maximum extent, at the close of time itself…come what may no matter how high the cost…is the controlling theme of liberated self-sacrifice I see over and over again in the biblical narrative stories of faith and in the history of the church leading up to today (Est. 4:16).

The concept of people starting out thinking they are not up to the task, yet nonetheless rising to the occasion and overcoming triumphantly in the most difficult of circumstances, through the supernatural insertion of God-composed, ingeniously crafted life-scripts having top-down, information-rich plotlines ready to step courageously into from the outset, is unique to the Bible.  It is not only part of the key to understanding the upcoming end-times challenge, but part of the key to understanding all of the timeless reality of life itself.

A biblical-quality journey of faith following Jesus Christ, within the current context of this broken world environment, resides at the upper limits of all human pursuits and endeavors, because the creative heart and mind of God resides at the pinnacle of the natural moral law for all right thoughts, behavior, and actions.  It is here and here only that Holy Ghost fire energizes and purifies all things (Heb. 12:29).

In the light of these foregoing arguments, is it likely that the last-days Christian church will be raptured pretribulation before all of these critical issues can be played-out to their fullest?  Is it more likely that God has an end-times script already composed for the entire human race, involving the Christian church in the most determined and desperate struggle, against seemingly impossible outward appearances, to gather in the last remaining lost sheep at the last final moment for all time?

I cannot dogmatically say one way or the other.  If God does rapture the Christian church pretribulation, then like all of the works of God, this will be perfect in its outreach, message, and outcome.  But I hope people reading this book will include the worldview concept of the way of the cross into their biblical, end-times eschatological calculus from this time forward.